Pareidolia!

by adamaphar

While running yesterday I saw a woman dressed in dark religious garb, delivering a missive, or perhaps a package, to some unseen individual. Of course she was really just a bunch of wires sticking out of the ground, and covered in black plastic. Maybe it was the 90-something degree heat. Maybe it was physical exhaustion. But I love that part of our brain – the part whose only job is to recognize people and faces – and it’s trigger-happy nature, creating people and faces out of random objects and slices of toast. Keepin’ tabs on the people. They are important, after all. For better or worse, we’ve decided as a species that our survival and happiness depends upon others. So we like to know where they’re at, just in case.

Pareidolia is what it’s called when you interpret insignificant stimuli as significant… or, at least, differently significant than its original purpose. This website has gathered about 50 of them. I love it.  I love the real, honest-to-goodness, emotional reaction you get. How can this picture not fill you with joy? Or this one? Mirror neuron don’t care. This one even has the squinty eyes of authentic laughter. It makes me wonder if it isn’t accidental in the design. Not conscious, no. I don’t think the designers meant to create a face. But I do wonder if that face-finding part of the brain exerted a bit of unconscious control of the design, maybe manifested as a feeling of peace and ease. Yes, THAT feels right. I like looking at that. Maybe.

 

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